UN Women in Action: Gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) at a glance in Albania
Albania has used the Medium-Term Budget Programme for programme and performance budgeting since 2008. Since 2010, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, in close cooperation with the UN Women office in Albania, have been working to integrate GRB principles into the medium-term and annual budget programming processes. In 2012, GRB was included in the Medium-Term Budget Programme, (MTBP) which was further enforced through a Decision of the Council of Ministers of Albania. GRB was included as a legal requirement of the Organic Budget Law in 2016 and the Law on Local Finances in 2017. These laws regulate the application of GRB in medium-term and annual budget planning along with the monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes of the relevant institutions.
GRB is continually annexed into the annual Standards Budget Preparation Instructions and represents an important tool for advancing gender equality in key national strategic documents. At the local level, GRB has been a legal requirement in the Local Government Financial Management cycle since 2017 with UN Women’s interventions. As all functions of central government are replicated at the local level as shared or delegated functions, municipalities in Albania are responsible for the implementation of all national and sectorial policies and strategies.
After the introduction of programme and performance-based budgeting (PPB) in 2018, the Albanian Financial Management Information System (AFMIS) was established at the central level. AFMIS speeded up the process and improved the quality of budget documents in 2019.
The new gender equality strategy 2021–2027 includes municipalities as one of the most important actors, among others, when it comes to tackling different aspects of gender inequality through the gender mainstreaming process within local budgets.
GRB legislative framework in Albania
GRB is currently one of the most important tools for advancing gender equality in key national documents, in accordance with existing national policy documents on social inclusion and gender equality in Albania. The gender equality Law that was approved in 2008 was followed by the gender equality strategy. In early 2010, mainstreaming GRB into the public financial management cycle became a demand and necessity for the implementation of the gender equality policies that were in place. In leading the process, the Ministry of Finance included GRB in the Medium-Term Budget Programme that was further enforced in 2012 through a Decision of the Council of Ministers of Albania. Inclusion of the gender equality principle into the Budgetary System Principles provided for in the amendments to the Organic Budget Law in 2016 and meant that the issue of gender equality became an integral part of central and local budgets. GRB is included as a legal requirement in both the Organic Budget Law (2016) and Local Government Financial Management Law (2017). These laws paved the way for the effective inclusion of GRB into all phases of the central and local financial management cycles (medium-term and annual budget programming, monitoring and reporting, evaluation and auditing).
Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment and Public Finance Management (PFM) performance results
The most recent PEFA assessment for Albania was conducted in 2016. The results of the assessment indicated mixed performance across the seven pillars of the 2016 PEFA framework. The scores for 15 of the 31 indicators were in the A-B range, reflecting strong performance, while the scores for the other 16 indicators were in the C-D range, reflecting weak performance.
The PEFA assessment did not include any information on the state of play of GRB implementation in Albania and nor did it provide comments or recommendations in relation to it. Nevertheless, the results on policy-based fiscal strategy and budgeting showed that the medium-term prospective was well embedded in the processes for macro fiscal planning and budgeting. Yet although the technical aspects of the budget preparation process were well developed, the strategic focus of the budget was reduced by deviations from the existing calendar, weak links to the sector strategies and limited focus on the MTBP in the parliament. This result can to an extent be linked to the introduction of GRB and the way it has been used to improve the entire budgeting process.
Implementation of Public Finance Management reforms
The gender mainstreaming process to effectively integrate GRB into the MTBP started in 2014 with the inclusion of gender in 4 of the 125 budget programmes (1 per cent of the entire budget). In 2020, this applied to 43 out of 75 budget programmes (9 per cent of the entire budget for central government).
Types of budgeting systems used for GRB in Albania
The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework was introduced in 1998. Programme Budgeting was first introduced in 2001, but it was only seven years later (2008) that the new Organic Budget Law provided the rules and guidelines for its effective implementation. Programme and performance-based budgeting (PPB), mainly as an informative form of PPB, was introduced in 2018 and is slowly covering both central and local levels of government.
At the central level, the Albanian Financial Management Information System (AFMIS) is helping not only to speed up the process but also to improve the quality of budget documents; however, PPB implementation remains a challenge at the local level, mainly because of unclear legal provisions and a lack of IT platforms that would otherwise help the process.
Global Gender Gap Index
Albania ranked 20th in the Global Gender Gap Index in 2020. According to the report the top five most improved countries in the overall index in 2020 (Ethiopia, Spain, Mali, Albania and Mexico) had all closed their respective gaps by 3.4 percentage points or more and had all achieved a substantial increase in the presence of women in political institutions.
Please refer to the regional study conducted by UN Women and UN Women Albania for more information on how the shrinking fiscal space during 2020 affected gender equality.
Recommendations on the implementation of CEDAW
The CEDAW Committee recommended that the State Party provide information on the implementation and impact of the first mid-term gender budgeting programme in its next periodic report. The Committee requested detailed information on the implementation of its Strategy for Gender Equality and Reduction of Gender-based Violence and Domestic Violence 2011–2015, including information on the remaining challenges. These recommendations all refer to general recommendation No. 6 (1988) on effective national machinery and publicity and to the guidance provided by the Beijing Platform for Action.